Zim to face Ireland in ICC Twenty20 opener

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ZIMBABWE’S cricket team were handed a tricky first round draw for the 2014 World Twenty20 (T20) tournament which begins in Bangladesh from March 16.

SPORTS REPORTER

The Andy Waller-coached side will battle it out in Group B which includes Ireland, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Netherlands and will kick start their campaign against the confident Irish who won the International Cricket Council (ICC) World T20 qualifiers in UAE on Saturday.

Host Bangladesh will battle it out in Pool B with Afghanistan, Nepal and Hong Kong in the preliminary phase of the tournament where the table-toppers from the two groups will progress to the Super 10 stage featuring the top-ranked eight teams.

The first round groups and fixtures of the preliminary round were confirmed after the Zayed Cricket Stadium matches in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Ireland successfully defended their title with a comprehensive 68-run win over Afghanistan and will face Zimbabwe in their first match preliminary round.

According to the new ICC World T20 format, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh will need to progress from the preliminary stage in order for them to qualify for the Super 10 stage.

The Andy Waller-coached Zimbabwe side will face Ireland in their first match on March 17 in Mirpur before facing Netherlands in Sylhet two days later.

Zimbabwe, who will be under pressure to win all their three matches in the preliminary round to justify their ICC full member status, will conclude their campaign with a clash against UAE on March 21.

Should Zimbabwe clear the first hurdle they will join Sri Lanka, England, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, India, Pakistan and Australia in the ICC World T20 tournament “proper” which gets underway on March 21.

The preliminary round fixtures are:

March 16 — Bangladesh v Afghanistan (Mirpur); Nepal v Hong Kong (Chittagong)
March 17Zimbabwe v Ireland (Sylhet); UAE v Netherlands (Sylhet)
March 18
— Afghanistan v Hong Kong, Chittagong; Bangladesh v Nepal (Chittagong)
March 19 Zimbabwe v Netherlands (Sylhet); Ireland v UAE (Sylhet)
March 20 — Afghanistan v Nepal (Chittagong); Bangladesh v Hong Kong (Chittagong)
March 21Zimbabwe v UAE (Sylhet); Ireland v Netherlands (Sylhet)